Mom & Dad Take France, Pt. 2: Normandy & Mont St. Michel

So, while my parents were here for two weeks, we knew we wanted to venture out of Paris and explore. I always love getting out of the city and seeing trees and flowers and fields again so I was overjoyed to go anywhere. We decided on Normandy because my Dad is a huge history buff and wanted to see the D-Day landing beaches and we also did Mont St. Michel because it was somewhere I wanted to go during my time in France.

After some time planning, we decided the best way to see Normandy would be to rent a car. So we did and I was finally able to drive again after 8 months and got to drive in France!

I gotta say, I think I was meant for those sharp, windey French country roads. Zooming down those streets going 90km/hr with a stick shift, I hadn’t felt more alive. However, I’m sure my parents had never felt closer to dying..

Anyway, we booked a night in a cute bed and breakfast in a small town and my parents were both excited for their first b&b experience. Upon arriving, we were all sold before even getting out of the car to check in. The grounds were gorgeous and exactly what anyone could hope for when vacationing in the French countryside. Anyway, Dad gets out to check in and Mom and I stay in the car. As soon as the door opens, Dad has a huge smile on his face – due to the fact that the owner was English, not French and he was able to understand (almost) every word she spoke (Dad has some trouble understanding the English accent, something I feel I’ve mastered during my time abroad).

      Hazel was a welcoming and wonderful hostess. We were so impressed with Le Clos Castel and Hazel that we decided to book an extra night at the cozy b&b. Our room was comfy and quaint and our view was beautiful.. OH! And the shower was awesome. After living in my shoebox and having a shower that goes cold after 5 minutes, I was overjoyed to learn that the shower had different settings and was like a spa compared to what I’m used to. I definitely indulged in a looooong, hot shower. Our second morning at Le Clos Costel, Hazel offered us fresh eggs from their very own free-range chickens and they were absolutely delicious.

Beautiful grounds, yummy breakfasts, welcoming hostess and lovely decor made this b&b the best experience I’ve ever had in a place. It was beyond words.

In those two days we were in Normandy, we saw the two American landing sites on D-Day – Utah and Omaha beach – and a few museums and even went to La Pointe Du Hoc. I collected seashells, sand and flowers from every site we visited and feel so privileged to have been able to learn so much and physically see somewhere that so many brave American soldiers gave their lives. Seeing the American Military Cemetery, was just beautiful and breathtaking and I can’t describe the feeling you get when standing there. The experience quiets your soul.

      

Normandy was an unforgettable experience.

After Normandy, we drove on down to Mont St. Michel and saw this beautiful abbey that everyone has told me about since I was 12 and in French class in 6th grade. I gotta say, it surpassed all of my expectations even after hearing about it for over ten years. The city inside was lovely and just like a movie. The outside literally takes your breath away. And everything about it is beyond words.

      

This little trip I took with my parents was one I’ll never forget. We saw so many places that are full of so much history and I was taken aback with everything.

Side note: I crossed something else off of my Europe Bucket List. 

 

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London Town

Last week, my best friend visited me here in Paris for her spring break. She’d told me before I ever even decided to move to Paris, that she’d spend her break with me and that’s exactly what she did. Aubs has never let me down.

IMG_7552Anyway, we met up in London for the weekend before coming to Paris and I just gotta say, I fell madly in love with it. In this weekend, I was able to knock one more thing off of my Europe Bucket List that I have – going to London. It was so different from Paris and what I’m used to and such a nice change. And I’m not gonna lie, one day I’d like to live there.. But that’s for another time.

In the two short days we had, we saw everything you could imagine. Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, changing of the guard, went to town on some fish and chips in a newspaper (my bucket list), dove into a real english breakfast, (window) shopped at Harrod’s.. And so much more.

Perhaps the best part was seeing The Phantom of the Opera. I’d never seen the movie, nor read the book so I honestly had no idea what it was really about.

IT. WAS. AMAZING. I loved every second of it. So creepy and dark and magnificently beautiful. And to see it in the theatre it was written for, Her Majesty’s Theatre, was unimaginable.

The room in the adorable b&b that we stayed in was even Great Britain themed. The trip was just plain awesome. We rode the tube, which was MUCH cleaner than the Paris metro and rode on the top of a double decker bus. We drank pints in pubs and met some friendly people everywhere we went.

Our foggy London weekend was perfect.

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Buckingham Palace

Cutest little B&B around

Yes, I ate all of the black pudding

Tower of London

Tower Bridge

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Seriously, the only way this trip could have been better would have been if I’d married Prince Harry while there..

Hey, a girl can dream.. big.

And let’s face it, I always dream big.

I Amsterdam

image1This past weekend, I was able to cross one item off of my Europe Bucket List. I traveled to Amsterdam and had the time of my life.

This beautiful Dutch city took my breath away and impressed me in so many ways that I never could have imagined. From the gorgeous canals to the wonderful history, I was taken aback. The entire experience exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return.

Tessa and I traveled on the Megabus from Paris to Amsterdam, which was a 7 hour drive. It actually wasn’t too bad! We took the night bus and were able to catch a few ZZ’s before arriving at our destination. Once there, we checked into our hostel, which was pretty darn cool – it was a boat! We stayed on a “bostel” called Christina and it was super duper cool.

We spent our time eating pancakes and drinking beer in between numerous museums. My favorite being the Anne Frank House. Touring this historic monument was inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. I feel so blessed to have been able to see such a huge part of history. And now after going, I am going to start reading The Diary of Anne Frank and cannot wait.

Overall, this experience was a dream and I cannot wait to return soon.

I left yet another piece of my heart in another place in the world and I couldn’t be happier.10659260_10153232791638465_80058978577315592_n

Bucket Lists!

It has occurred to me that after living in Paris for seven weeks, I should start a bucket list. Or two. So, I’m starting two. I think that having a specific list of things to explore and admire while living in Europe will make this experience even more wonderful.

Here are my two bucket lists that already after only 30 minutes of brainstorming have numerous items and multiple pages of things to cross off.

1) Europe Bucket List – Which includes things such as visiting the Isle of Skye, Scotland and skiing in Switzerland

2) Paris Bucket List – Which includes things such as attending a show at the Moulin Rouge and finally making it to the top of the Eiffel Tower

I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to complete all of the things on my Europe Bucket List but I’m determined and therefore WILL complete all of the things on my Paris Bucket List. Even if I don’t finish Europe, I’ll come back one day with my same list and it’ll be finished before I die. I know it.

To go along with the lists, I’ll be taking a photo every time I complete an item to document and share. I’ve also made two new categories for each list here on my blog to make it easier to follow these adventures! This should be a pretty fun game.1489126_10153216788498465_932246146810501952_n